The World Series Sprint Racing provided some of the most dramatic competitive Stand Up Paddle Racing yet on the Stand Up World Series, as the World’s best battled it out at the all new Yas Marina SUP Circuit for the final component of the Abu Dhabi All Stars Grand Slam.
Coming into Day 2, Connor Baxter (Starboard) was sitting on top of the world, having convincingly won the first stop of the Stand Up World Series in Brazil, and then the Opening day of stop number 2 here in Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, coming off a disappointing result in Brazil, Kai Lenny (Naish) battled Connor to the bitter end on the 1st day of the Abu Dhabi All Stars, having to settle for 2nd, but on the second day of action, looked calm, collected and ready for business.
As the rounds progressed in the unique World Series Sprint Racing format, Kai Lenny (Naish) was looking strong, dominating each of his heats to make it all the way to the Final, inclusive of a stacked semi final heat that included arch rival Connor Baxter (Starboard). Both athletes advanced, as did 4 more of the World’s best: Zane Schweitzer (Starboard), Mo Freitas (Focus SUP), Beau O’Brien (Starboard) and Jake Jensen (Fanatic).
It was a battle for the ages, as Kai Lenny managed to take the lead on the first leg, maintaining it through the remainder of the course, as the battle continued behind him for 2 through 6, giving him the well deserved win in the Sprints.
With an on form Zane Schweitzer (Starboard) finishing in 2nd and Connor Baxter (Starboard) in 3rd, this meant that Kai won not only the Sprint Racing, but the Overall World Series event Title here at the Abu Dhabi All Stars Grand Slam.
Connor Baxter (Starboard) stormed to victory on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi All Stars Grand Slam, and looked strong through Day 2 as the Rounds progressed. Conserving energy early on, Connor then stepped up his game in the stacked semi finals, earning his place in the fiercely contested Finals.
Coming strong off the start, Connor was in 3rd coming into the first buoy, and despite some surges through the next 2 legs and into the home straight, was unable to pass Kai Lenny (Naish), the eventual winner and fellow team mate, 2nd placed finisher Zane Schweitzer (Starboard).
This result meant that Connor was unable to make it two out of two, both for the event, but also the Series, has a similar story is developing on the Stand up World Series, with Kai Lenny (Naish) and Connor Baxter going blow for blow, event for event, now both holding one event win each.
Zane Schweitzer (Starboard) from Maui puts on a performance to remember here at Stop #2 of the 2014 Stand Up World Series, finishing in 3rd place in the long distance race and 2nd in the sprint racing propelling him into 3rd place overall for the event amidst the very fastest paddlers in the world.
Zane looked strong in the long distance, but even stronger in the sprint racing, with powerful starts, slick buoy turns and impressive acceleration, giving him a well deserved 2nd place in the sprints, his best result in a long while on the Stand up World Series, strengthening his overall standings on the World Series as he moves up into 3rd place overall.
The dominance of the Maui crew at this stop of the World Series was clear, with a clean sweep for Kai, Connor and Zane across long distance, sprints and overall at the 2014 Abu Dhabi All Stars Grand Slam.
The story also remains the same for the overall World Standings, as Connor Baxter (Starboard) still leads the ratings, followed by Kai Lenny (Naish) in 2nd and Zane Schweitzer (Starboard) in 3rd – an amazing performance from these young island Champions.
Mo Freitas (Focus SUP) puts on a valiant performance here at the Abu Dhabi All Stars Grand Slam, with a 4th place in the long distance, 5th in the sprints and 4th overall.
With a 3rd place in the Surfing here at the All Stars Grand Slam, there is no doubt that we can expect great things from this young Champion this year, showing that he is a legitimate double threat for both surfing and racing. At still just 16 years old, his career and successes have only just begun…
Stay tuned for tomorrow when we will release the All Star Champion Line up for both men and women. You can see it all right here at www.watermanleague.com
Beau O’Brien (Starboard) from Australia pulls off a phenomenal come back on Day 2, to finish in 4th place in the sprints and 5th place overall for the World Series here at the Abu Dhabi All Stars Grand Slam.
Beau’s perseverance saw him claw back on the home straight in a couple of crucial heats, showcasing not only his paddling speed and skill, but his grit determination and stamina. There is no doubt that Beau is a major talent to watch out for in 2014.
Casper Steinfath (Naish) is awarded the ‘Sportsman’ Award at the 2014 Abu Dhabi All Stars Grand Slam, a special award recognizing an exceptional contribution and representation for the sport, the World Series and Ocean Sports athletes in general. Casper has proved himself to be a phenomenal ambassador for the sport and demonstrated an admirable attitude and approach throughout the All Stars event, from Wadi Adventure Park to Yas Marina – all the elements that we are looking at for such an award.
The last act that sealed his candidacy for this award was having completed the grueling long distance yesterday, he watched a local competitor struggling to complete the course: Casper jumped back on his board and completed the last lap with the local athlete, encouraging him to go the whole distance and finish in style.
There is no doubt that this is the kind of attitude and approach that we at the Waterman League want to encourage and promote to the future generations and we are extremely proud to have Casper competing across both the Stand up World Tour and Series.
There were phenomenal performances across the board here at the 2014 Abu Dhabi All Stars, as the leading edge of Stand Up Paddling at its very best was showcased in all its forms. We witnessed the performance go through the roof in the controlled environment that the Wadi Adventure Wave pool provided, and then world class racing at its very best amidst a location that is steeped in Motor Racing history and prestige.
We then embraced the paddling community in Abu Dhabi through the open racing today at Yas Marina, and then tomorrow with the Na Kama Kai Youth Clinic and Fun Team Relay Racing to take place at the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club.
This year saw a vast increase in Emirati participation, as we celebrated their involvement in the incredible sport of Stand Up Paddling, as well as a larger and even more competitive field of resident paddlers here in the UAE.
We would like to sincerely thank his Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club, ESSA (the organization for SUP and Surfing here in the UAE), Yas Marina, Yas Island, Wadi Adventure Park and Emirates Airlines. We very much look forward to an even bigger and better Abu Dhabi All Stars for next year, as we grow this event significantly looking ahead to 2015 and beyond.
Stay tuned for the release of the Abu Dhabi All Star Leaderboard and Champions coming to you following the Official prize-giving and closing Party at Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club tomorrow. You can catch the highlights, recaps, galleries and much more by going to www.watermanleague.com